Biography and Writings
1309 Stroud Ave, Gadsden, AL 35903
Author's email: email@example.com
I'm an advanced space systems engineer (i.e., a rocket scientist). That means mostly working on next generation projects rather than today's hardware. I attended Columbia University, studying astrophysics and engineering, and where I first started working on space concepts. I then worked for the Boeing Company for 24 years, from 1981-2005, all of it in their Space Systems division. The last major project I worked on was the Space Station, where I variously was a lead systems engineer, wrote operating procedures, and tested software. Since leaving Boeing, I have continued with my own design and engineering business, Tirion Designs. Currently I am working on the Seed Factory Project, whose goal is to develop sustainable self-expanding automation to end material scarcity.
I was supported by the public much of my life, in the form of scholarships and working on government contracts. Now that I work for myself I want to give back to society in the form of open-soured work like the Wikibook Space Transport and Engineering Methods and other projects.
If you want to contact me directly, the best way is my email account, listed above. I tend to use the same user name (danielravennest) for most of my public accounts online (including Wikibooks). Other methods like posting to my discussion page here might work, but I am on too many forums and sites to track them all. My personal email is the one I check the most often.
The Seed Factory Project
My work since early 2013 has been directed at self-expanding automation using local resources. At present we cannot do much in space, because it is just too expensive. One way to reduce the cost is bring a starter kit of equipment, and use it to build the rest of what you need out of local materials and energy. That includes more equipment to augment the starter kit. Bringing just a starter kit to someplace like Mars avoids the high shipping cost of an entire human outpost and everything they need to live and work. By early 2013 I had realized that this kind of starter kit will work just as well here on Earth, because the laws of Nature are the same everywhere. A single starter kit can grow to produce an increasing range of products, including more starter kits. This kind of exponential growth has the potential to end material scarcity. So I shifted my focus to demonstrating the first such starter kits here on Earth. Space can wait until later.
The starter kits are called Seed Factories, because a complete factory grows from the kit in the same way a complete tree grows from a seedling. In fact, an automated and self-expanding system like this meets many of the definitions of artificial life, and it can include actual biological elements like growing plants for the products they provide. The Seed Factory name thus merges the ideas of living and industrial in a very apt way. There is only so much I can do as one person. So I started the Seed Factory Project as an open-source collaboration to develop and demonstrate actual working versions of this idea. The approach we are taking is the designs and technology would be open for anyone to use, while the physical hardware would be privately owned by their builders. The hope is that will lead to the widest application and the greatest benefit for the most people.
We are nowhere near finished, but you can read a more complete description and quarterly status reports and a start at an article series to find out more. As part of the project I started writing an engineering book here on Wikibooks. It covers the concept, history, design, and operation of self-expanding automated production systems. It's here on Wikibooks in the spirit of open-source collaboration. I started writing it, but anyone who knows their field is welcome to contribute. We've taken stab at setting up a web page and GitHub repository, but I'll be the first to admit they need more work.
- Project Home Page created 20 Feb 2013.
My Writings on Wikibooks
Books in Work:
- Space Transport and Engineering Methods - This is intended as an introduction to Space Systems Engineering at a first year university level. It is a future-oriented book, covering many ideas and methods beyond just rocket propulsion, such as space mining and manufacturing, and self-sustaining habitats. Future projects are more likely to use these ideas, and so the need to teach the basics about them.
- PDF generator for ST&EM book - for people who want a portable copy.
- Seed Factories - A new book about the concept, history, design, and operation of a self-expanding production system.
Articles in Work:
These are notes and articles in various stages of completion:
- Seed Ideas - This page is for ideas not developed enough to start a paper, but worth recording. Ones worked on enough to start a paper include:
- Human Expansion - A proposed program to expand human civilization beyond its current limits.
- Air Mining - The concept of mining the upper atmosphere from orbit for fuel and air.
- Gravity Lens Beamed Interstellar - Concept for interstellar propulsion.
- Community Scale Automation - Using automation at the local scale